Licensing bodies and collective management organisations

Licensing bodies and collective management organisations can agree licences with users on behalf of owners and collect any royalties the owners are owed.


If you would like to use copyright material, you usually need to get permission from the rights holder to do so. Sometimes this can be obtained directly from the rights holder, but more often it is granted in the form of a licence from a licensing body. A licensing body is a broad term used to describe any organisation which offers licences for the use of copyright work.

What is a collective management organisation

A Collective Management Organisation (CMO) is a type of licensing body which grants rights on behalf of multiple rights holders in a single (‘blanket’) licence for a single payment. Generally speaking, rights holders will join a CMO as members and instruct it to license rights on their behalf. The CMO charges a fee for the licence, from which it deducts an administrative charge before distributing the remainder as royalties. They are typically not for profit organisations and are owned and controlled by their members, the right holders.

How are collective management organisations regulated

The conduct of UK CMOs is governed by the Collective Management of Copyright (EU Directive) Regulations 2016. These Regulations implement a piece of EU legislation (the Collective Rights Management (“CRM”) Directive, 2014/26/EU) into UK law.

The CRM Directive

The CRM Directive aims to fulfil the following objectives:

  • to modernise and improve CMO governance, financial management and transparency; in particular, ensuring right holders have more say in the decision making process and receive royalty payments that are accurate and on time
  • promote a level playing field for multi-territorial licensing of online music
  • to help create innovative and dynamic licensing structures that encourage the development of legitimate online music services

Monitoring compliance of the CRM Directive

The CRM Directive requires each member state to nominate a National Competent Authority (NCA) which will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Directive’s provisions. The NCA functions in the UK will be undertaken through a unit in the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). For more information please visit how the IPO regulates licensing bodies.

CMOs in the UK

Copyright works can come in a number of different forms, for example books, newspapers, pictures or music. There is usually one CMO per sector which may be able to offer a collective licence.


PRS for Music and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL)

PRS manages the rights of songwriters, composers and publishers while PPL manages the rights of the record producers and the performers. As all these parties can have rights in a single piece of music, you will often need a licence from both PPL and PRS to get complete copyright coverage if you would like to play recorded music (eg records, CDs, jukebox or the radio) in a public space. A public space is usually one that is not domestic or private, for example a pub, club, shop, workplace or village hall. You would usually only need a licence from PRS if you would like to allow live music to be played at a public venue.

Eos (The Broadcasting Rights Agency)

Eos is the Broadcasting Rights Agency that serves the music industry in Wales.

RadioPro Ltd

RadioPro Ltd operates as a Collective Management Organisation and manages copyright and rights related to copyright on behalf of rightholders in the music sector, accepting members through RadioPro. If you want to play their music in a public place, you will need to purchase a licence from them.

Printed material

The CLA licenses on behalf of Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLS), the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS), the Design and Artists Collecting Society (DACS) and Picture Industry Collecting Society for Effective Licensing (PICSEL). You may need a licence from the CLA if, for example, you wish to photocopy, scan or re-use content from magazines, books, journals and electronic and online publications. This includes press cuttings where obtained from a press cutting agency’s web portal.

Publishers’ Licensing Services (PLS)

The PLS use the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) and the NLA Media Access to manage collective licensing for publishers. PLS distribute the royalties they receive from the CLA and NLA to publishers who have signed up with them. While PLS do not offer any collective licences themselves, they may be able to assist if you are looking to use their members’ works in a way not covered by an existing collective licence.

Authors Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS)

The ALCS use the CLA to license the rights of its author members. They are responsible for distributing the royalties from the CLA to their members. They do not offer any collective licences themselves but may be able to assist if you are looking to use their members’ works in a way not covered by an existing collective licence.

NLA Media Access

An NLA licence may be required for organisations who wish to make a copy of an article published in a newspaper or magazine either in print or online, for using it both internally or externally. This covers photocopying, printing, faxing, scanning, e-mailing, using articles in a presentation, hosting on a website/blog/social media site, including where obtained from a press cutting agency’s web portal.

Performers’ rights

British Equity Collecting Society (BECS)

The performers’ union Equity established BECSin 1998. BECS is a CMO whose main purpose is to enforce its members’ statutory rights and collect revenue from the compulsory collective administration of rights within the UK and in other EU Member States.

Artistic works and images

DACS manages the licensing of visual artworks for a range of uses, such as print and online publications, broadcasts, advertising and merchandising. You may need a licence from DACS if you wish to use an image of a visual artwork.

DACS distributes royalties from the CLA’s collective licensing scheme of secondary uses of images in UK publications (through DACS’ ‘Payback’ scheme).

DACS collects Artist’s Resale Right royalties and distributes these royalties to artists and their estates.

Artists Collecting Society (ACS)

ACS deals with the collection of the Artist’s Resale Right and copyright on behalf of artists and artists’ estates in the UK and EU.

Picture Industry Collecting Society for Effective Licensing (PICSEL)

You may need a license from PICSEL if you are a visual works rights holder who licenses their works, then you are able to “mandate” PICSEL to represent you in collecting secondary income for your repertoire.

Recording of television programmes by educational institutions

Educational Recording Agency (ERA)

You may need a licence from ERA if you are a school or an educational establishment in the Further and Higher Education sectors and if you wish to store and/or use audio or audio-visual clips or recordings sourced from radio or television broadcasts, for non-commercial educational purposes.

Directors UK

Directors UK is the professional association of directors working with the moving image in the UK.

If you think you need a licence, you should contact the relevant CMO which will be able to confirm exactly what your licensing requirements are.

Other licensing bodies

Other examples of licensing bodies which are not strictly CMOs, but which can offer collective licences are detailed below.


Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC)

You may need a licence from the MPLC if you wish to show one of their member’s films in a public forum for example in film clubs, libraries, hospitals and seminars.

Filmbank Media

You may need a licence from Filmbank if you wish to show one of their member’s films in a public forum for example in film clubs, libraries, hospitals and seminars.

Use of works in churches or Christian worship

You may need a licence from the CCLI if you wish to copy text from hymn books for use in worship. They also offer a film licence to cover the showing of films during worship or in church clubs. CCLI also act an agent for PRS and PPL for churches that use recorded music outside of worship for example in a coffee shop or club.



You may need a licence from Soundreef if you wish to play one of their member’s music in stores or if you want to perform their music.


CreaCollect grants licences in relation to live performances, online streaming services, mechanical reproduction, and TV and radio broadcasting.

Independent Music Publishers’ E-Licensing (IMPEL)

IMPEL is a collective of independent music publishers that have appointed MCPS to license and administer the online mechanical rights in their Anglo-American repertoire on their behalf. IMPEL became a limited company in January 2015 and is owned by the MPA.

The MCPS is a licensing body which manages mechanical reproduction, distribution, import and synchronisation rights on behalf of music publishers and songwriters.

The IPO and MCPS have agreed a Memorandum of understanding (PDF, 251KB, 19 pages) which sets out the extent to which the MCPS will comply on a voluntary basis with the requirements of the Collective Management of Copyright (EU Directive) Regulations 2016.

Printed material

Printed Music Licensing Ltd (PMLL)

You may need a licence from PMLL if you are a school who wishes to copy any sheet music.

If you are unhappy about the price or terms and conditions contained within a licence offered by a CMO or other licensing body, you may be able to appeal to the Copyright Tribunal. The Tribunal is a court which specialises in deciding disputes over the reasonableness of the price of a licence and its terms and conditions.

Published 11 April 2016
Last updated 14 March 2019 + show all updates
  1. New entry CreaCollect added.

  2. Information added on RadioPro.

  3. Publishing Licensing Society has changed it's name to Publishers' Licensing Services.

  4. Memorandum of understanding added.

  5. Picture Industry Collecting Society for Effective Licensing added.

  6. Independent Music Publishers’ E-Licensing (IMPEL) and The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (MCPS) added.

  7. First published.